How One Travel Writer Is Using Technology In 2010

Palavas-les-Flots

That travel writer would be me, by the way. In my house, where 1/3 of the occupants are a cat and the other 2/3 don’t get out much, one person doing something equals a trend. So, 2010, what’s up! Let’s see what I’m doing to keep connected to the world in the Information Age.

Make sure you take a moment to tell me what your favorite techie tools are in the comments!

Objects:

My iPod Touch

My father gave this to me when I was home last year, and it was like getting a pony that turned out to be a unicorn that farted rainbows and sang my favorite song, on key. It is the coolest thing ever invented, including fire and the Internet. As long as I have an Internet connection, I am unstoppable on this thing. I’m going to do another effusive post about my favorite apps, but for now suffice it to say that it could not be more perfect for me and who cares about the iPhone.

My Beloved MacBook

If there were a fire in my house (godforbidtouchwood), and because I’m fairly certain Cal would grab the cat, I feel free to state unequivocally that my MacBook would the the thing I would save on my way out the door to safety.  I’m still on the Tiger operating system, and I just upgraded to 2 gigs of RAM from 512 MB (!!). The Internet blinks on and off like Christmas lights, several times a day. The plug is also getting wonky. But this thing is a workhorse, and I love it more than words can say.

My Ridiculously Good Camera

Digital SLR cameras are the standard these days, and you can’t go anywhere without seeing even the most amateur photographers laden with a bag of lenses and squinting through the viewfinder. And, if someone were to give me an SLR camera, I wouldn’t hesitate to accept it gratefully. But, my old, miniscule Sony CyberShot has been my faithful companion for several years now, and has rewarded me with the most astounding record of my travels. I am a big, big fan of pocket cameras. And it’s never let me down.

That said, nighttime shots – my new obsession – are not the best with this camera. There are some other things it doesn’t do that I wish it did. So, I’m keeping my eye on how much the already well-priced Fujifilm Finepix J32 will cost during the January sales here in town. It’s really time I upgraded to more than 400 ISO. Ha!

My Super Sleek Slick Flip Camera

Given to me by Mr. Mack this past summer with the caveat that I would take videos of my travels, the Flip is quite possibly the best-designed electronic device I’ve ever owned. It’s simple to use, upload, edit and post clear, crisp videos. So, why haven’t you seen any of them? Because I can’t keep the damn thing still enough to avoid nausea upon viewing. But I’m working on it, and you’re sure to see footage throughout the course of this year. Stay tuned.

My Crappy Cell Phone

It’s a cheap piece of pay-as-you-go crap, but it works with both French and Italian SIM cards and I can check emails in a pinch, so it’s fine. I’m not a phone person.

Online:

WordPress

When I set out to start a blog, I created accounts at all the top/best/popular blogs, and WordPress was by far the best. I know I should transfer it over to my domain name, but I don’t want to lose my stats and frankly, I’m afraid. I like this just fine, thanks.

The best features are the stats and the ridiculously easy to use interface. I’ve made WordPress blogs for other clients and they’ve all been thrilled with the results. I do wish I could put my Amazon affiliate links up on here and I would like my sidebar menu to show up on single-post views (I just changed the template and BOOM there it is), but oh well. I can live with it because I adore everything else.

Twitter

Oh, Twitter. I love you so much, even though you’re misunderstood by the masses. Seriously, I cannot imagine “regular” people finding Twitter the least bit useful. But for the world of travel, as I am sure it is for other relatively specific industries, it is indispensable. And now with their lists feature, I’m able to follow many more people by including them in categorized lists while at the same time unfollowing them on my main Twitter feed. It’s cost me some followers despite my explaining this repeatedly, sadly, but my Twitter time is now much more efficient thanks to my list-keeping.

Tumblr

All the cool kids are into Tumblr. And by cool kids, I mean literal kids – I’m fairly certain I’m a good 15-20 years older than the average Tumblr user. I use mine as a kind of online file cabinet – the “Share on Tumbr” button in my Firefox toolbar allows me to post pictures, articles and videos directly onto my Tumblr with one click, and there is a search function on my Tumblr I can use to find stuff I’ve posted. I’m also following about 70 users, and using the dashboard feature I can browse through their posts, which seem to be made up entirely of pictures of words, video stills with subtitles, or winsome, emaciated hipsters holding cameras in front of their faces. I find it endlessly fascinating.

Individurls

This is what you keep wishing Alltop would be, and it has a great interface for my iPod Touch. Oh, and it has a browser toolbar button, too, and can recognize the feed only from the URL. One of my goals in 2010 is to get all the blogs I want to follow onto my Individurls page, and scan them every day. Because I absolutely suck at following other people’s blogs.

Flickr

For $25 a year, it stores all of my photos for me. Boom. Batch uploading, batch organizing, clean interface. I could not live without it.

Non-Fun But Vitally Important To My Well-Being:

Elance

This is how I get all of my non-travel writing gigs, how Cal gets 99% of his clients, and I’ve done some travel writing through it as well. Yay, Elance! Thank you for helping us to pay our rent!

Paypal

Yay, Paypal! Thank you for helping us to pay our rent!

Stuff I Feel Like I Should Like But Really Don’t Care About:

Facebook

I use Facebook to keep up with friends and family, and I hide all but the ones I really want to know about. Rarely do I post Miss Expatria stuff on there, and I don’t have a “page” for it or a “fan page” or a “group page” or whatever the hell everyone seems to be doing for their blogs and/or businesses. Honestly, I can’t be bothered updating something like that.

LinkedIn

I’ll add anybody who’s not robot spam. I haven’t tapped into the supposed power of LinkedIn, except to see if anyone I know could hook me up with someone at Oyster Hotel Reviews. Maybe if I get some time I’ll figure out what I should be doing over there.

Google Wave

I’m on it, but I don’t get it. Yawn.

28 thoughts on “How One Travel Writer Is Using Technology In 2010

  1. Some old favorites and some new things to research! A great (and entertaining list!). I just got my macbook and iphone while I”m back in the US for the holidays and am in complete awe of Apple. Happy New Year!

  2. This was a post after my own heart. I am a tech freak, my main goal figuring out how to use stuff to streamline my life. And while I love many things Google, I don’t get Wave either.

    Lately, because I’m hoping this New Year will see me in Europe at some point, I’ve been focusing more on tech that lets me travel as lightly as possible. Here’s what I’ve ended up with: 2.5 lb Eee PC that’s about the size of half a sheet of paper, AT&T Mercury USB data card that lets me have Internet access anywhere in the U.S. that I can get a signal, HTC TouchPro 2 smartphone that allows me to access the Internet in places I don’t bring my netbook – I love, love, love this phone, my new Kindle with international access- which is so light that I bring it everywhere.

    I can actually fit ALL of this in a medium sized handbag, and I’ve been bringing it every day to spend several hours visiting my mother in the rehab facility she’s been in. It’s still fairly heavy, but a lot more mobile than the big computer bag I needed for my 15″ Dell. You can see it here.

    One thing I’ve been trying to find out is how to manage Internet access abroad. I’m hoping to be able to spend great gobs of time in England and France, plus some trips to Italy and Ireland. Is there any company that lets you buy access to the EU as a whole, or at least pay as you go data while you’re visiting? I know that I can use wifi in many places for free. But I was kind of hoping to do things like access maps and tourist websites on the go, like just standing on streetcorners or whatever, preferably with my phone but with my netbook if necessary. It looks like T-Mobile would charge something like $15 a megabyte if I got their USB data card. It seems like there should be a cheaper alternative. What do you do?

    • McDonald’s has free wifi, which is a GREAT thing to remember, especially in airports. Starbucks has wifi, but I don’t think it’s free (at least it wasn’t in Paris). Italy has a USB key Internet thing that everyone uses there, because they’re about 100 years behind the rest of the world in terms of IT infrastructure. I’ve seen them advertised and I think they are pretty cost effective – definitely not the horrendous price you mentioned, by any means.

  3. We are freaky Alice-into-the-Looking-Glass twins on most of these things…though I fully support a DSLR…I probably won’t give up carrying around a point-and-shoot, either.

    I’m not going to jump onto the Tumblr wagon, though…I feel like I have too many sites already!🙂

    • Awww, it’s OK, Tumblr is my guilty pleasure. It’s really useful as my “file cabinet,” though – I know a lot of other people use Google notebooks and such, but Tumblr works for me.

  4. Re: the ipod touch. I know, right??! My dear Chris, completely Luddite-adjacent, broke down and got one and now Javier de la Fuente (his ipod’s formal name) is rarely far from his side. I got the 2nd gen touch last year and I love the Brick like I created it myself. Great technology, without a doubt, and it keeps me from wanting an iphone.

    The other technology that changed my life is Netflix. I can stream lots and lots of movies to my tv through the xbox 360 (another gem) and the DVDs arrive in my mailbox at ridiculously fast intervals. I dumped all of my pay cable channels and have never looked back. Now I’m free to watch every movie Daniel Craig has ever been in and wonder why he hasn’t called me yet.

    • We have an Xbox as well, and we’re waiting for one of the “kids” to come over to tell us how to move the movies from our computers to it. Because we are old fuddy duddies.

      Re the Touch, I agree, I have no idea why anyone would want the iPhone. If it had a camera in it, it would be perfect. But then it wouldn’t be as super sleek and slim.

      If we had Netflix here, we’d never leave the house.

    • Please do! It gets addictive, though, just warning you. If you can get past the winsome melancholy of 5 million 16-year-olds, you can find real gems there.

  5. I’m able to put my Amazon affiliate links on my WordPress, but I don’t know if that’s because I use it with my own domain name.

    I haven’t looked into Tumblr, yet, but I do use del.icio.us. From your description, I guess it’s similar.

    Facebook has these wonderful apps that allow you to automatically update your FB page with your blog posts, as well as inform your friends when you bookmark a page on del.icio.us (and presumably on Tumblr), when you update LJ, when you upload photos to flickr, etc. It’s my hub of the internet!

    • Tumblr is a blog thing; I just use it as my file cabinet because I found it easier than something like del.icio.us. It’s easier to type it, anyway! LOL

      I know about the Facebook update things, and I did that for a long while – but no one was ever reading them or commenting, so I just keep that as my little personal thing where I can talk about stupid stuff.

  6. i am going to be stingy and say that my favorite advances are the ones that enable my wonderful cousin to find out what she needs to make our trips that much more fabulous, and my one stop resource center for when i finally move abroad.

    i dont do the research…thats what i have her for!!

    and your little camera with the taped- on battery cover is the best camera ever!

    but personally , i love my macbook and all of the wonderful things that it can do!!

  7. Wonderful and VERY timely post! Husband and I are about to sell newly built cottage (as soon as the last bits of construction ARE done!) and do the global nomad thing ourselves.

    You are sharing such wonderful ideas and I’m right there with you about the MAC. Love my little 13″ wonder and hope that it lasts a long, long time!

    My point and shoot is the Lumix with 10 megapixels, but it does lose some resolution in darker settings. So I still carry a honking great Nikon pro DSLR. And it is heavy!

    Rebecca, have the same question about overseas internet providers a-la pay as you go. Heard from one website that Orange (which operates in France and England) sells phone and internet plans like that with no contract. Must be others, too.

    • Deborah, check my reply to Rebecca about pay as you go Internet here. Pay as you go phones are everywhere too, which I know is different from the States.

  8. Miss E & Deborah, Thanks so much for that info, it will really help.

    But Miss E, pay as you go phones are pretty much everywhere here too. And, lately, there have been some new names offering no contract data plans. Since parts of Europe are ahead of us technologically, I was hoping they already had that. And that USB thing in Italy actually sounds like what I’m using here from AT&T, for mobile broadband on my netbook, so I’m already used to it.

    I’ve kinda accepted that I’m gonna want data plans on both a phone and a computer. As I mentioned, I’m hoping to be able to access tourist info on street corners with my phone. But I’ll also want to do more extensive research on my netbook from wherever I’ll be staying. That’s why I was hoping for some reasonable options for both, rather than the unbelievably outrageous $15 @ MB.

    Again, thanks so much.

    • Oh, thank goodness they are finally normal in the States. Years ago I had a pay as you go phone and NO ONE but drug dealers had them at that time. It was me and a bunch of drug dealers at the check cashing place topping up our phone credit.

      Every phone I have had over here has its own Internet connection built in. My most recent phone is 50 cents for 15 minutes. That’s on a crap Nokia with pay as you go WIND brand SIM card. The phone is crap so the pages look like crap, but if you had a decent phone with a graphics screen you could conceivably get street corner information.

  9. Don’t feel bad: nobody I know has yet figured out what Google Wave is good for. Nobody. Geekus maximus types included. On the other hand, I can’t figure out what Twitter is good for, either. Does that make me a normal? Dang, I hope not!

  10. Fun post as usual! I looove my macbook too! We actually bought it for our daughter, but most of her educational software only worked on PC, so she took over that one & I ended up with the mac. Hee hee! Meanwhile, hubs is on a big Macpro and loves it.

    We were Mac desktop folks before world traveling take off, so logical that we are more comfy on Macs, though I must admit having 1 PC laptop in our family arsenal has been a wise choice.

    We are so geekless though, we don’t have an ipod, iphone, Flip etc & abandoned our top of the line global phone in 2006 at the beginning of our open ended world tour.

    I like your “Crappy Cell Phone” idea! We bought one to use in Spain so the locals can call us, but we do all our calls on our laptops!😉

    I love Twitter, but I feel the same about Linked-in & Facebook!

    Happy Travels in 2010!

  11. just have to yell out for a e-high-five for the agreement with gadgets liked and even more interestingly, the stuff i think i should like but actually not… new here, and already like the blog.

  12. I recently happened to travel with someone who had an iPhone. It was incredibly useful in a foreign city. Just hook into free wifi to book a hotel or find out where something was. I am thinking of getting one simply for travel – I generally hate phones at home.

  13. I love this photo and I love this post. You’ve got everything plus location (well, two for that matter). What about one of those internet chiavette? Have fun in Rome xo e

  14. Great article! Your blog is amazing, I just found it and I’m an official fan now! I’m studying Journalism right now at college and I hope to go into Travel Journalism in the future. I’m going to pop open a blog for myself soon, and this gave me greeat inspiration.

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